Poverty in Washington
The State of Washington has a new 10-year strategic plan for poverty reduction. The Dismantling Poverty web site is a rich information source on poverty in the state and implementation of the strategic plan.
For a more regional view, see the Poverty in the Northwest Slides.
Much of the money budgeted by Washington state for low-income housing is invested or spent by the Housing Trust Fund —https://www.commerce.wa.gov/building-infrastructure/housing/housing-trust-fund/– which is part of the State Department of Commerce.
Projects supported by the Housing Trust Fund include:
- Crossroads Housing in Shelton http://www.crossroads-housing.net/menu
- Sidewalk in Olympia https://www.walkthurston.org/
Quaker Voice participates actively in the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. Their web site provides a wealth of data and analysis.
TANF – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (background: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32760.pdf
Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) grants were cut during the last recession (in 2008). In 1996 TANF grants provided a family of three with $562/month. Today an eligible family of three receives $50 less: $512/month in dollars not adjusted for inflation.
Quaker Voice has over the years support restoring the buying power of TANF grants to 1996 levels; providing and defending funding for educational support; and maintaining the Medicaid waiver that provides health insurance to anyone with an income of less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, help that is vital to people served by the Housing and Essential Needs and Aged. Blind, and Disabled programs.
Washington has the most regressive tax structure in the nation. Even in good economic times, tax income is insufficient to fully fund the social safety net those who cannot work need to prepare for work or survive without becoming homeless. Additional revenue is also needed to make sure all our children receive the education they need to remain fully employed in tomorrow’s job market.
If wealthy Washingtonians paid the same tax rate that the poorest people in our state currently, we would have a budgetary surplus. It isn’t fair that people with higher incomes pay taxes at a lower rate. We need to develop an equitable tax structure that fully funds our state’s safety net programs and pays for everyone’s education.
The Washington State Budget and Policy Center provides excellent analysis of these issues, at https://budgetandpolicy.org/policy-priorities/state-budget-revenue/, including connections to racial disparities and the Working Families Tax Credit.